Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Centre Cody Hodgson has made the Vancouver Canucks lineup. FILE PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tom Hanson (Tom Hanson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Centre Cody Hodgson has made the Vancouver Canucks lineup. FILE PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tom Hanson (Tom Hanson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Team Capsules

Part 5: NHL Northwest Division Preview Add to ...

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Last season: Won the Western Conference, lost in the Stanley Cup final.

How they've changed: The Canucks will open the regular season without injured forwards Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond. Combine that with the aftereffects of a heartbreaking end to the 2011 playoffs and don't be surprised if Vancouver gets off to a sluggish start. No worries, though, the Canucks will win the division.

More related to this story

Training camp decision: Cody Hodgson has finally cracked the lineup. Now that's accomplished, the former first-round draft pick wants to make a meaningful contribution. It will depend on how much playing time he'll get, possibly as the second-line centre.

CALGARY FLAMES

Last season: Second in the Northwest, missed the playoffs.

How they've changed: Trading Robyn Regehr to the Buffalo Sabres took away a reliable defenceman who played a lot of minutes. It also thinned the blueline after Mark Giordano and Jay Bouwmeester. Captain Jarome Iginla missed most of camp with back spasms but team officials have insisted there's nothing to be concerned about.

Training camp decision: Mikael Backlund is being counted on to centre the No. 1 line with Iginla and Alex Tanguay. The 22-year-old has all the skills but remains a young and unproven player.

MINNESOTA WILD

Last season: Third in the Northwest, missed the playoffs.

How they've changed: Given their pop-gun offence (fourth-worst in the NHL last season), the Wild went big-goal hunting and bagged Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, both from the San Jose Sharks. They're being counted on to produce at key moments, especially on the power play. A former 50-goal man, Heatley scored just 26 times last year.

Training camp decision: Trading star defenceman Brent Burns opened the door for Tyler Cuma, Marco Scandella and Justin Falk. Scandella and Falk have played in more than 20 NHL games; Cuma has yet to play any.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Last season: Fourth in the Northwest, missed the playoffs.

How they've changed: The goaltending is new, and it had better be good. The Avalanche gave up a 2012 first-round pick to the Washington Capitals for Semyon Varlamov and signed free agent J.S. Giguère. If the two can do a stellar job, the likes of Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson should be able to make up for last season's downturn.

Training camp decision: Colorado knew what it was getting when it drafted Gabriel Landeskog second overall in June – a big, powerful skater who can score. Landeskog had 36 goals in 53 games with Kitchener of the OHL last season, and could be a great finisher for either Duchene or Stastny.

EDMONTON OILERS

Last season: Last in the Northwest, missed the playoffs.

How they've changed: They're still reliant on the development of their young aces – Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle – but the Oilers have some new, key parts. Ryan Smyth adds leadership, Eric Belanger will help on faceoffs, while Darcy Hordichuk and Ben Eager will provide some edge.

Training camp decision: It was all about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first pick overall in the 2011 entry draft. After playing him with top-line wingers during the preseason, the Oilers announced Monday that Nugent-Hopkins, 18, will start the season with the NHL club.

Follow on Twitter: @AllanMaki

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories